Do small baits mean small fish?

A small 4-inch bait caught this muskie.

I am a multi-species fisherman and really don’t discriminate between species. You can find small ice jigs all the way up to 16-ounce muskie lures in my wall of tackle and they all have their place. However, let’s think about the size of the bait versus the size of the fish.

There has been a stigma around the size of the bait versus the size of the fish caught. To me there really is no relation to this. I have caught small fish on big baits and have caught large fish on small baits. It is all a matter of getting a bait in front of the fish and matching the local forage.

Different times of the year will often dictate the size of the offering. The body of water also will make a difference as the size of the forage will vary from area to area. The old saying of “match the hatch” is a good way to think about it.

However, there are often times that I am just blown away by what some fish will strike. I recently caught perch and bluegills on large bass-style crankbaits. These baits were almost as large as the fish. Was it hunger or aggression that caused these fish to strike?

During a recent trip up north my main goal is typically bass, however there may be a walleye or northern in the mix. My offerings typically are plastics in the thick weeds. This trip I downsized to a small LFT Baby rig fry and that was the trick to catch bass after bass, however one day was quite different.

On a rainy and windy Saturday that small 4-inch bait caught two nice muskies that made the bait look tiny in comparison to others. A 36-inch and a 42-inch muskie both ate the bait, and after great battles I was able to get a couple photos prior to release.

So, this kind of throws that “big bait, big fish” attitude out the window for me. In fact, there are many times that downsizing your offering is just the ticket to put more fish in the boat.

Just a little something to think about the next time you find yourself struggling to catch fish. Think about downsizing your bait and see what happens.

Categories: Blog Content, Fishing, Illinois – Cory Yarmuth

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